Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Didn't These Guys Ever See Fargo?

Out of the Black
John Rector

4 out of 5 kidnapped stars.

(I received a free ARC of this from NetGalley.)

Matt Caine must have crossed a black cat’s path before walking under a ladder and opening an umbrella indoors while breaking a couple of mirrors because he is one unlucky son-of-a-bitch.

His wife was killed in a car crash that badly injured and traumatized their daughter, and Matt had to take out loans against his house to pay the medical bills.  When the banks threaten to foreclose, Matt borrows money from his old buddy Murphy who dabbles in loan sharking, but he can’t find steady work and the interest on the debt is piling up.   Murphy doesn’t want to hassle Matt, but it’s bad for business to let someone slide and his partners are getting antsy.

Matt’s in-laws are making noises about taking his daughter away because his grief and a case of PTSD from his time in the Marines have left him unfit and unable to provide for his daughter.  When his friend Jay starts talking about a foolproof plan to kidnap the wife of a wealthy man for a payday that would solve all his problems, Matt knows that it’s a bad idea, especially since Jay is an untrustworthy junkie.  As his options dwindle, he eventually convinces himself that it’s his only way he can keep his daughter.  The kidnapping plan goes about as well as you’d expect as Matt’s lucky streak continues.

In John Rector’s The Cold Kiss, he took the old crime story scenario of someone finding a bag of money and trying to get away with it and made a fresh story out of it.  He does a similar thing here with the idea of a decent guy forced by circumstances into taking part in a crime in which things go screwy.  It’s a fast-paced story with a relatable main character and some good twists and turns along the way.

I wish a bit more about Matt’s history as a Marine had been explained because other than a comment from his mother-in-law about his wife had told him about his nightmares, we don’t get much more than that.  While he knows his way around a gun, there’s nothing in the action stuff to suggest that he’s been in combat before.  There’s also a cute neighbor who is a little too good to be true that loves his daughter and is always available to babysit when he needs her to.  Of course, she’s also attracted to Matt who is too conflicted about his dead wife to act on it.

I’m focusing too much on the flaws here and nitpicking this more than I meant to. It really is a solid story with good action and a fast pace to it that should make any crime fan happy.

Also posted at Goodreads.

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